“The Beauty of Everyday Things”

Pico Iyer, in “Autumn Light” tells us that it took him time, after he settled in Japan, “to realize that every detail — the apples, the boxes they sit in, the table on which we place them — counts, because none of these things is inanimate in Japan.”

He writes of his wife, Hiroko, narrating an episode from her childhood. “I small time, I kicking the table — sometimes little angry — every time, my father say, “You must apologize! To table. That table has heart….Why must you hit it?”

In “The Beauty of Everyday Things” (translated by Michael Brase), the Japanese philosopher and artist who championed folk art during the 1930s, Soetsu Yanagi, writes of how we tend to “ignore” and not appreciate the things we use every day, “objects….most familiar to us throughout our lives.”

He observes that it is similar to “someone living in proximity to a flowering garden” growing “insensitive to its fragrance.”  “Likewise, when one becomes too familiar with a sight, one loses the ability to truly see it. Habit robs us of the power to perceive anew, much less the power to be moved.’

He goes on: “These commonplace objects are indispensable to daily life. They are, in fact, our loyal companions, our faithful friends, willing to help out when help is needed. There is not one of us who doesn’t rely on them throughout the day. The beauty….in them is honest and sincere, an expression of humility.”

He then gifts us this gem — a message that, in this age of use-and-throw, directs us to cherish the things that we use, however ordinary and commonplace they may be.  “Users and the used have exchanged a vow: the more an object is used the more beautiful it will become, and the more the user uses an object, the more that object will be loved.”

Peace 😊

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